Cher Public

Lèse majesté

Dame Gwyneth Jones is fighting an attempt to oust her as president of the Wagner Society, a position she has held for 23 years. An exciting story, but the best bit is the comment: “Whew! that was close—you nearly managed to write an article on Wagner without mentioning Hitler!” [The Telegraph]

  • StageLefty

    I was lucky to be working backstage on a prodn of FROSCH in which she sang Dyers Wife. I was watching Act III from the wings, made room for her when, over my shoulder, I saw her approaching, and she stopped and stood there for a minute, with her dresser, towel draped across her shoulders. This was before I knew the piece -- I figured she was about to enter… Turns out she was. Just vocally. Full bore. 48 inches from my ears.

    BAAAAAAAAAAA-RRAAAAAAAAAAAK.

    My teeth stopped rattling about 2 months later.

    • tiger1dk

      I just saw Quartet (which, IMHO, starts quite horribly but becomes quite sweet and interesting once Maggie Smith enters). Near the end Dame Gwyneth Jones sings Vissi d’arte. Does anybody know if that was recorded just now for the film? It sounds quite good, I think.
      I wondered, btw, why in the credits she is listed as “Dame Gwyneth Jones” but Dame Maggie Smith only as “Maggie Smith” -- anybody knows?

      • armerjacquino

        Individual choice, I should think. Maggie Smith never uses her damehood on credits, posters, programmes etc.

      • Ravenswood

        Yes. The credits (which I read from another website) for the music performances in the film also list Adrian Muller, Dame Gwyneth’s present husband, as the pianist in that recording of ‘Vissi d’arte’.

    • la vociaccia

      That is a GREAT story.

    • mjmacmtenor

      I saw/heard her as the Dyer’s wife with LA Opera in the early 90s. 2 things stood out. The vibrato that I found sometimes intrusive on her videos was a “non issue” hearing her live in the house. Also, at one point she dropped to some low note in full chest voice (she started her career as a contralto). I felt like I was run over by a truck (in a good way). The only think I ever heard comparable was the Russian dramatic tenor Vladamir Atlantov. Some things can only be experienced and appreciate live.

      • danpatter

        Though I heard Birgit Nilsson (and other prodigious sopranos as well), it was Gwyneth Jones who sang the loudest high note I ever heard, the high C in “Laggiu nel Soledad” (FANCIULLA) in Los Angeles. Incomparably thrilling performer, and easily the best Brunnhilde since Nilsson.

        • mjmacmtenor

          She could also be wonderfully lyrical. Her Rosenkavalier film is one of my faves. I also recall a filmed Tannhauser where she sang both Elsabeth and Venus. The Venus costume was not much more than a body stocking, and she was a knock our!

          • danpatter

            I love Jones’ Marschallin, and thanks for the heads-up on the Bayreuth Tannhauser. I did not know about it and have ordered it.

  • Ravenswood

    Here’s the link to a fuller report on the controversy at the London Wagner Society:

    http://www.the-wagnerian.com/2013/06/editorial-dame-gwyneth-jones-booed-out.html

    • Cocky Kurwenal

      Not so much a fuller report, as the same report accompanied with a bit of conjecture, speculation and reflection.

  • Niel Rishoi

    This is the role I would have liked to see/hear Dame Gwyneth in person:

    I imagine I would have gone home with a headache -- the best kind!

    • Ravenswood

      There really should be a commercially-available DVD documenting her awesome Elektra.

      • damekenneth

        Not to mention her Turandot! It’s such a pity that the ROH has not released a dvd of their wonderful Serban production with Jones from 1984 (filmed, I believe, in ’85).

        • Niel Rishoi

          I saw clips of this on YOuTube -- dame Gwyneth is in GREAT voice here

          • Ravenswood

            Yes, indeed! For Elektra, there’s at least an audio commercial recording available from the Swiss label Claves, but we got nothing as regards Dame Gwyneth’s fabulous Turandot. Shouldn’t there be some proper documentation of this major assumption for posterity’s sake? As has been suggested, the Serban production should’ve been released on video, but I suppose record executives nowadays are more mindful of video quality than artistic standards…

      • Niel Rishoi

        Yes, Ravenswood -- a lot of us have been waiting for years for this to be put out onto DVD.